No longer confined to the domain of long-haired hippies singing and dancing around in flower circles, activism has in recent years become an increasingly popular trend amongst the mainstream public, especially with tech-savvy youth. In the last couple of years alone there have been massive protests about a huge variety of topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement, Schools Strike for Climate, indigenous land rights, the Me Too movement, and LGBTQI+ rights.
Seaspiracy is the latest popular activist documentary putting the spotlight on corporate corruption, this time in the fishing industry – it reached the top ten on Netflix across 32 countries in just 48 hours, signifying yet another example of the growing power of so-called ‘New Activists’.
According to the Global Communication Reports conducted by the USC Center of Public Relations in 2020 and 2021, ‘new activism’ has begun to dominate public relations in the corporate world, with 63% of PR professionals believing that activists are more influential today compared to five years ago, and 64% agreeing that activists will become even more influential over the next five years.
And indeed, only a few weeks ago there was a landmark ruling against ExxonMobil in favour of a small activist hedge fund who will push the oil giant toward renewables (despite Exxon spending $35 million in an attempt to stop this from happening). That same day, Royal Dutch Shell was also ordered to cut their carbon emissions by almost half, after a Dutch court ruled in favour of human rights and environmental collective Friends of the Earth.
This is all very progressive and encouraging, but it’s important to remember that, especially in the social media age, your company really needs to be on the pulse of what issues are going on, have well-prepared and trained spokespeople, and most importantly, always know what your position is.
This new age activism is real and won’t be diminishing in the future; our prediction it will only increase. Sustainable companies will acknowledge this and be prepared.
If you think you might need help with a communications or positioning workshop for your business, call me on +61 417 160 120 or email email@example.com for a chat on how we can support you.